Can I Edit a PDF from Mail? Here’s How!

PDF are one of the best Adobe creations in the last 25 years. They have made work life so much better for so many. The ability to edit a PDF depends on a couple of things. Let’s look at what’s involved.

PDF from an email can be edited using PDF editors. There are several available both at a cost and free. Adobe reader will only allow viewing and comments.

As a graphic designer for 25+ years, I remember a time when proofs had to be printed out, couriers ordered, proofs delivered to clients. For them to scribble all over them and return to you by another courier. Thankfully that all ended with the introduction of PDFs. Let’s look at what you can do with an email PDF depending on what you have available.

Open a PDF

When you receive a PDF as an attachment the first thing you can do is view it through your email app. But that won’t allow you to edit any part of it. To do this you need to download the PDF and open it.

Either Right Click on the attached or hit the download button.

Click twice on the Downloaded PDF and if your computer has the appropriate app, the PDF will open. If not, Right Click and see what’s available.

However, most people only have Adobe Acrobat Reader. This is a free to download app. It will open your PDF and you can view your file and add comments but it doesn’t allow you to make any changes to the file.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

In order to make fundamental changes to your PDF you are going to need Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. If you have a subscription to Creative Cloud then you already have access as an available app.

Open your Creative Cloud and Install the app in the usual way.

This will then become your default reader.

If you don’t have the Creative Cloud subscription and possibly have no need for any of the other apps you can subscribe to just having the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. The cost is $14.99 per month (Aug21) but this can be reduced if you are a student or a teacher.

Editing a PDF

Once you have signed up for Adobe Acrobat Pro DC you now have the ability to fully edit your PDF. When you open it there is an array of tabs down the right hand side.

Click on Edit PDF

This then allows you to change fonts. Change colors. Edit placed graphics. Add text and graphics and also delete items.

It also allows you to add signatures if forms need to be filled.

It is fantastic that we have the ability to edit a PDF but I would advise to proceed with caution. If you have been sent an email with a PDF attachment be sure to ask if you can make changes to it. The originator may just want comment boxes filled and not actual changes made. As soon as changes are done then your file is now different to theirs.

In the past when we had hard copies it was always the same file. It may have taken days to get approval but everyone was working from the same sheets of paper.

So I would be very cautious about changing a file where there are multiple copies of the same document.

The best thing to do is to have a shared document. Then at least, just like in the past, there is only one version.

Other Alternatives to Adobe

There are many alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Pro. Some have the same or very similar capabilities to Adobe Acrobat. Some are free and some come with a cost.

Let’s Look at the Top 5

  1. Nitro Pro
  2. AShampoo PDF
  3. Soda PDF
  4. PDF Expert
  5. PDF Buddy

Nitro Pro: $8.99 per month

Nitro Pro is a PDF editor and convertor. It allows cross platform use, sharing facility and security options. Good for small businesses or individuals.

AShampoo PDF Pro: $30 (up to $70)

AShampoo PDF is a Windows compatible software. It is a one off payment per device. Allows editing of PDFs, font change, color changes, editing of images and vectors with an additional program.

Soda PDF: $81 – $132 / year

Soda PDF allows full editing of PDFs. Add and remove pages, images. Not as capable as Nitro Pro or AShampoo but still a good alternative. It is WIndows only compatible.

PDF Expert: $59.99 per year

PDF Expert is a cross platform app. It allows you to edit text, fonts, colors, move items and paste additional items. It also has security features, password protected and encryption.


PDF Buddy is Free. Sometimes we’re a bit wary of adding free apps to our machines. PDF Buddy does everything you need in a PDF editor. It allows 3 edits per month for free. You can edit, highlight and add text and images. It’s a great alternative if you don’t have a huge need for PDF editing each month. There is a paid version, which has unlimited changes for $7.99 per month

In conclusion PDFs can be edited but we need to be cautious if the PDF is sent to more than one person. If editing is allowed, file sharing is better than mail. 

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Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on

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